ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Cardinals do not have a catchy slogan like the San Francisco Giants' ubiquitous "Humm-Baby" mantra. They also do not have Jack Clark, permanently affixed to the bench with a torn-up ankle, or an offense with the power to offend anyone.
What the Cardinals do have is the National League pennant, acquired here Wednesday night in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series in a most unconventional manner.
In the prolonged absence of Clark, the Cardinals relied on solid pitching and another unlikely contributor to beat the Giants, 6-0, and advance to the World Series against the Minnesota Twins, the American League champions, starting Saturday night at Minneapolis.
Danny Cox, who clinched the NL East title for the Cardinals earlier in the month, almost effortlessly shut out the Giants Wednesday night before 55,331 delirious fans at Busch Stadium. All the offensive support he really needed was supplied by little-known utilityman Jose Oquendo, who hit a three-run home run in the second inning off Atlee Hammaker to break the Cardinals' offensive funk.
Since no Cardinal had a dominating playoff series, controversial Giant outfielder Jeffrey Leonard was named the Most Valuable Player. Leonard hit four home runs and tied a playoff record with 10 hits.
"He didn't deserve that," Cardinal shortstop Ozzie Smith said. "They probably just gave it to him because they felt sorry for him because our fans were on him.
"We're a team. Our whole team deserved that award. It says a lot for this ball club that we acheived this without Jack (Clark) with us. These guys (the Giants) didn't respect us. Maybe they will now."
The Twins, surprise pennant winners themselves, probably are having trouble figuring out how the Cardinals did it. Cardinal Manager Whitey Herzog, who had suspended his usual lofty expectations for his club, certainly was.
"I don't know why we're here," Herzog cracked amid a raucus postgame celebration.
Adversity, maybe even more than the Giants, was a worthy opponent for the Cardinals in this series.
They didn't have Clark. Willie McGee was severely hampered the entire series with a sore left wrist and thumb. Terry Pendleton had a sprained ankle and suffered a pulled muscle in his left side Wednesday night. Until Game 7, neither Vince Coleman nor Smith had stolen a base.
But the Cardinals had plenty of gumption and heart, one thing Smith accused Leonard of lacking after the Giant outfielder slid hard into second base in the fourth inning.
"Leonard just took a cheap shot at me," Smith said. "He's a cheap-shot artist. Yeah, I yelled at him. I told him that it was a terrible thing he did. I know he had to be frustrated by losing, but it was a cheap shot."
Said Leonard: "I guess (Smith) was mad at me because I touched him."
Frustration must have tugged at more Giant players than just Leonard.
The Cardinals, having come home Monday, trailing the Giants, 3 games to 2, pulled off a startling reversal with effective pitching, solid defense and the contributions of stand-ins who all may wind up with book deals before the end of the month.
A previously potent San Francisco attack did not produce a run in the final 22 innings of the series, Cox's eight-hit shutout accounting for the final nine innings Wednesday.
Prosperity must not sit well with the Giants, two years removed from a 100-loss season. They needed to win only one game to advance to the World Series for the first time since 1962, but they couldn't even scrounge up a run.
With the notable exception of Leonard, who had three hits in the final two games, the Giants left their bats in San Francisco.
"I wouldn't believe we'd come in here and not score any runs," Giant Manager Roger Craig said. "But you've got to give them credit for good pitching."
The Giants, whose last playoff appearance was in 1971, blew a 4-0 lead in Game 3 at Candlestick Park. They dropped Game 6 here Tuesday night when right fielder Candy Maldonado lost a liner in the lights, accounting for the game's only run. In some parts, this might be remembered as another Giant collapse. But in the mind of many Cardinals, it simply was another exhibtion of character-building from a team that put 12 players on the disabled list throughout the season, yet still managed to remain in first place for 137 continuous days.
"We've had a few championship teams," Smith said. "But this one has more character than the previous two teams. We're here because we deserve to be here.
"When you get to this point, you can't be a one-dimensional team. We won without our horse (Clark). We won without running on them. We can beat you with pitching, with guys like Jose Oquendo."
A prime example of Cardinal ingenuity and resolve was the unexpected home-run shot by Oquendo, whose only previous notoriety was being a last-resort pitcher for an inning this season. Herzog was so thin on pitchers in this series that his standing joke was that Oquendo might become his bullpen ace.